Monday, April 16, 2007

Congratulations and Welcome to New Ph.D. Students

Now that the campus visits are over, I want to take this time to congratulate again and to welcome into the Rice community three new Ph.D. students who will be moving to Houston this summer to begin work in the Bible and Beyond speciality. All three have given me permission to formally welcome them on this blog.
Welcome to Chad Day. Chad comes to Rice with a B.S. in Sociology and a M.A. in Religious Studies from UNC Charlotte. He wishes to study the Jesus movement, post-NT Jesus traditions, and the early church, with a particular orientation toward Judaism and its literatures, the Christian apocrypha and extra-canonical writings. He has an avid interest in "disciplinary border crossing" so is interested in continuing to foster his love for a range of methods and approaches to the field including postcolonical criticism, socio-rhetorical criticism, discourse analysis, and social theories (especially Bourdieu).

Welcome to Franklin Trammell. Franklin comes to Rice with a B.A. and M.A. in Religious Studies from UNC Charlotte. He has already written an impressive M.A. thesis (which I got to read parts of) reevaluating Q scholarship, particularly the layering of Q. He argues for a unified Q from the beginning. At Rice, he wishes to pursue another interest in the magical and mystical traditions in early Christianity. So I imagine that he will eventually be working in those alchemical texts that have yet to be fully translated as well as the traditional magical, hermetic, and gnostic materials. But he is aware that the mystical tradition already is emerging in Paul, so he will be studying the NT text from this perspective too.

Welcome to Claire Villarreal. Claire returns to Rice after an eight year hiatus during which she traveled abroad to Thailand, India, and Nepal studying and teaching meditation. She has a B.A. from Rice in Religious Studies and English. She wishes to become a comparativist, particularly in terms of mystical traditions within early Christianity and contemporaneous Buddhism. So Claire will not only be involved in the Bible and Beyond speciality, but also will be working intensely with Anne Klein who will guide her through the Buddhist materials.
I am extremely excited about working with each of these students, and inaugurating in the Fall the Rice Early Christianity Research Seminar, an on-going working seminar whose goal will be to thoroughly reconceptualize Christian Origins. To do this, we will take seriously all literature produced during the ante-Nicene period, archaeology, documentary literature, geography, indigenous populations, Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts. There will be no canonical boundaries. There will be no Christian apology. We will use both the web and traditional publication to share our progress. So stay tuned for that in the Fall.


Alan Gregory Wonderwheel said...

What a wonderful adventure for these three students. Happy exploring to all! I'm sure we will all be hoping for progress reports as well as seeing something on the final results.

John Shuck said...

Congratulations to your new students. What a great program you have. If I was 25 years younger and had the passion I do today, I would apply for a Ph. D. at Rice!

I noticed that two of them have degrees from UNC-Charlotte, Dr. Tabor's department.

I have been following his blog and yours closely. Both of you continue to make me rethink Christian origins, especially the Jewishness of Jesus.

I was wondering what you think about the Talpiot Tomb and its possible association with Jesus and his family.

Despite the Discovery Channel film, and all the hoopla surrounding it, what do you make of the evidence? Is this plausible? What questions remain unanswered? What would determine your evaluation one way or another?

Thanks again for blogging!

April DeConick said...

Dear John,

I remain very skeptical about the tomb, mainly because I think that the academic community yet needs to evaluate the materials very carefully and very thoroughly. The big things that cause me to be very reserved is the fact that we do not know the relationships of the deceased to each other, and the fact that the tomb contains names not in the Jesus story seems to me should be factored into the stats and the overall analysis. I'm also torn about the Mary ossuary with the double name. I'm not sure how it should be read or who it really refers to.

John Shuck said...

Dr. DeConick,

Thank you. I appreciate that. The concerns you mentioned are important. I would guess that it could take years, perhaps decades in fact to address all of that.

I look forward to the academic community making those evaluations as you have said.

I think your work to evaluate all the early materials regardless of canonicity will move our understanding of the early movements and perhaps even the historical Jesus forward.

Thanks again.

With much appreciation.